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Another One Bites The Dust

In a perverse way, creationists (excuse me: intelligent design proponents) love nature as much as evolutionists. They often cling to the marvelous exceptions in life--the exceptions that evolution has yet to account for--as proof that only creation can fill the gap between what we see and what we understand.  The best example of this is the human eye. Take this interview with George Gilder, co-founder of the Discovery Institute:

"And it turned out that human vision is not a sense, it's an intelligence. And its design is so intricate and amazing that it actually evinces some kind of designed principle. And the idea is that this evolved by random processes is just preposterous. It's not as if it's a close call, it's just preposterous."

(Unsurprisingly, Gilder hasn't been keeping up with his biology). A similar but less publicized "exception" to evolution's explanatory power has been the flatfish. This is a family of fish--including flounders and halibut--that have both eyes on one side of their head. For years, biologists strained to understand how this trait could have evolved slowly over time. It's an understandable advantage now--fish can swim flat on the ocean floor and see upward with both eyes--but what would have been the impetus that set off the evolutionary process? It made no sense to have one eye slightly toward the middle, for example.  And most importantly, there was no fossil record to prove the transition.

Now that's changed. A University of Chicago doctoral student, poring over European museum archives for research on his dissertation, has found fossils that likely provide the evolutionary link between the contemporary flatfish and its ancestors. His discovery is published in this week's issue of Nature. (Click here for a non-subscriber, layman version). More evidence that the already weak case against evolution is, well, floundering.

--Eric Zimmermann